If ‘The Secret Life Of Pets’ Wants To Borrow Everything From ‘Toy Story’…Take Its Originality As Well.
Illumination Entertainment is the studio that brought Minions into the world so there’s obviously a grudge with them. I’ve thankfully skipped every film they’ve released since 2012’s ‘The Lorax‘. Hoping that ‘Secret Life Of Pets’ would be the film to turn me onto the company, the only thing it did was confirm my disdain.
Max, a Jack Russell Terrier, lives with his owner Katie in a New York City apartment. He has quite the spoiled life and that leads to him being very possessive of his owner. As soon as she leaves each day, he just waits by the door for her to come home. His friends Chloe (tabby cat), Mel (pug), and Buddy (dachshund) all live around him. They each have unique lives and have their adorable distinct personas.
Suddenly, Katie brings home another dog. This giant Newfoundland named Duke invades Max’s territory causing massive friction between the two. Soon enough, their fights lead to getting lost and have to find their way back home. Without a doubt, they become best friends along the way and learn a lesson in the end.
Some others have mentioned the whole “Toy Story but with pets” thing but seeing the film, I didn’t know they’d even use similar plot patterns and beats as ‘Toy Story‘. Then they add in this whole “friends go out and rescue missing friends” plot; something Pixar also used as the plot for ‘Toy Story 2‘. Oh and lets add an evil pet who hates the way these pets are. You know, like Lots-O’-Huggin’ Bear from ‘Toy Story 3‘. If ‘The Secret Life Of Pets‘ was already using the basic premise of a legendary predecessor, I believe avoiding other obvious similarities would have made the project a bit more memorable.
On the other hand, the animation style used in this film is utterly stunning. Using a cartoon style of animation and perfecting it like this is a refreshing opposition to the realism strived for in Disney/Pixar films. There was landscape shots of New York that were so wonderfully detailed. Each animal was created with unique features that made them stand out in this vibrant world. My favorite being this terrifying looking Sphinx cat named Ozone and a Pomeranian named Gidget.
‘The Secret Life Of Pets‘ will make boat loads of cash. It’s the middle of summer and kids are needing this sort of mindless entertainment. That’s the target demographic and it works on that level. But when other films have mixed together the profitable with the artful, this one just feels a bit reductive.
‘The Secret Life Of Pets‘ pounces into theaters July 8th. The film stars Louis C.K., Eric Stonestreet, Kevin Hart, Ellie Kemper, and Jenny Slate.